Saturday, March 17, 2007

hong kong behind the scenes

my friend ayeen and i went on a nine-day hong kong trip last february 12. while we have a lot of photos to document the trip, there were still a lot of moments that we weren't able to capture. such as:

almost missed the buddha. we enjoyed walking around happy valley so much that we arrived late in tung chung. when we finally got our tickets for the ngong ping skyrail, we were told that the place will close at 6. we were so scared that we wouldn't be able to see the buddha and catch the last cable car ride back to tung chung. thankfully, the map provided was misleading. what seemed to be a 30-minute walk on the map was only a 10-minute walk in reality.

leeping even when slippery. those seats on the mtr are too clean for comfort. since our trip was from tung chung station until the very last station at central, we tried getting some shuteye during the train ride. unfortunately, we couldn't keep still. we kept sliding across the seat, which basically ruined our chances of ever having a chance to rest onboard.

mean ol' taxi driver. these cab drivers take their traffic laws seriously. ayeen and i were walking on leighton road, and we saw a chinese restaurant across the street. even though the crossing sign blared red, we crossed the street anyway, since there were no cars. just our luck, that a cab turned on our street and caught us violating the law. he sped up when he saw us, prompting us to scream and run for our lives. it would also be funnier if i tell you that leighton road is a
very narrow street. yeah, yeah, i know we deserved that one.

finger-dipped water. this could be the only time that i will say, "thank god for
bottled water!" when we had lunch at stanley restaurant, we experienced the hospitality of the waitress. she served us two glasses of water... with her fingers dipped in our panulak.

getting lost in stanley. being up in stanley got me a bit turned around, which saw us waiting for the bus on the wrong side of the street. thank god for helpful locals, we were able to find the correct bus stop. geeeez!

mistaken for a local. happened quite a few times. a lot of them would speak to me in cantonese, and when i'd go, "sorry...?" they'd get so frustrated. walking along causeway bay in the morning, people from the different free publications would hand me all-chinese newspapers. to avoid further hassle, i'd take it, and even pretend to read while waiting for the crossing light to turn green. this cracked ayeen up immensely.

yes, i can understand that. ken, our friendly tsim sha tsui trinket stand guy patiently explained to us the chinese zodiac partners of each sign of the zodiac. he consulted his chinese zodiac book the entire time. we asked for various zodiac amulets, that he got a bit confused already. he made a mistake with one of my amulets, and i told him, "wait, wait! you got it all wrong. see, here *pointing to the chinese character for pig in his book* it says the pig goes well with... *pointing to the chinese character for tiger in his book* tiger. you gave me a dragon!" he looks at me and says, "oh, you can read chinese?!" and i reply with a proud "yes!" his expression turned to frustration, as if to say, "geez, you can understand it all along! why am i even explaining all this?!"

the language barrier. i don't know why, but ayeen and i put ourselves in plenty of "compromising" situations on this trip. even when we knew they wouldn't understand us well, we'd still go into one of those small chinese restaurants. after pointing out our orders, i decided i wanted hot soy milk. so i called the waitress and requested for "soy." a minute later, she places a glass of hot water in front of me. i was dumbfounded. then the realization crept in. the chinese word for water is shui, which sounds like soy. i had mistakenly ordered water.

so that's why it's cold! during our second night in our hostel, i look up and stare at the window for about two minutes. ayeen notices the look of confusion on my face. "what?!" she asks. after about five seconds, i reply, "may salamin ba yung bintana?" ayeen looks at the window, gets up, and reaches out to the window. "WALA!" she screams, then opens the curtains. "TANG INA! BUKAS YUNG BINTANA THIS WHOLE TIME!" we scream.

brrrrrrr. i don't know what it is, but luck just wasn't on my side this trip. at around 2am, after updating a blog on our second night, i walk to the bathroom. i turn on the shower to let the water heat up. it worked perfectly, and i was able to shampoo and get all lathered up. when it was time to rinse, though, the water had turned icy. i peek out the door to check if the heater light is still on. yup, still is. i wait for a few minutes, tinkered with the valves. no luck. i hate being in that state of soapiness. everything's so slippery. so i gulp, and prepared myself for the iciest rinsing i've gotten since my fever last month. i was trembling throughout the entire rinsing process. when i woke up the next morning, ayeen went, "baket balot na balot ka? di naman ganun kalamig ah." i nearly threw a boot at her. :p

not paying attention. our hostel was located in a building along fashion walk. it being a residential building, it had one of those security codes that you had to punch in so you can enter. apparently, our hostel receptionist told us about this when we checked in. he even wrote it down on our card, but we missed his instructions due to our excitement. this resulted in three nights of being nearly locked out. we waited for the doorman to wake up from his sleepy reverie so we could finally rest our tired feet.

the mtr luggage challenge. we started shopping early on in our trip, which meant our luggage expanded exponentially. we were wise enough to bring extra bags to put our shopping stuff in, but we didn't have enough foresight to think about lugging all of it around on the train when we moved to kowloon. we faced this challenge a few hours before we checked out. ayeen had bought brand new luggage for her impending singapore trip, which meant she had two trolleys to pull, and i had a tiny backpack, a duffel, and my lovely trolley. thank goodness for escalators, we were able to pull it off, but not without quite a few laughs. getting through those mtr turnstiles were quite a trip! our biggest hurdle was tsim sha tsui station exit a. quite a long flight of stairs, but we were able to surmount it.

ipis in hong kong. contrary to charlie's (ger's wife, who's lived in hong kong for about two years now) belief that there are no cockroaches in hong kong (because she hasn't seen one ever), i encountered an adventurous little roach on board the hkkf ferry to lamma. it did not make me very happy.

stepping on doggie doo. after our trip to lamma, ayeen and i walked back to the star ferry pier. it was a holiday, and lots of people were walking their dogs. when my right foot was an inch away from the pavement, ayeen let out a warning, "nooooo!" but it was too late. i felt the mushy blob as my foot landed on the ground. two tourists behind me couldn't help but scream "ewwww!" to my face. my shoe's bottom earned a pretty good scrubbing in the hotel, thanks to the complimentary toothbrushes provided.

(photos: ayeen and myself in various states of insanity. that's what traveling can do, i guess.)

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